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How to Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes

January 9, 2023

Do you ever feel like you can’t move on from past mistakes? You’re constantly haunted by what you did, and no matter how much time has passed, you can’t forgive yourself. If this sounds like you, I want you to know that you’re not alone. 

I’ve also experienced situations in my life that were painful to look back on, situations that I either caused or allowed. But I discovered that a part of loving yourself also means being kind to yourself and practicing self-compassion. 

It is a natural part of life to make mistakes, and it is not always easy to forgive ourselves once we do. We may find ourselves ruminating on our missteps, experiencing feelings of guilt and shame, and believing that we do not deserve to be forgiven. But self-forgiveness is essential on the road to happiness and peace of mind. So to help you on your journey, we’ll explore a few tips on how to forgive yourself.

How to forgive yourself

1. Accept responsibility for your actions.

The first step towards forgiving yourself is accepting what happened. If you’ve been trying to forget, pretending it didn’t happen, or making excuses to justify your actions, it is time to own up to what you have done. The only way to heal is to acknowledge what happened and accept responsibility for your role.

Sometimes, it’s even harder to accept responsibility when the person you hurt is yourself. Have you ever thought:

  • What was I thinking? 
  • Why would I allow this to happen? 
  • How could I have done that to myself? 

These are questions that are very difficult to confront. But to let go of the guilt and shame, it is crucial to explore these questions. The point is not to beat yourself up but to understand why you did what you did so that you can choose differently next time.

2. Be gentle with yourself. 

Beating yourself up about your mistakes will only make things worse. Instead, treat yourself with compassion and take a moment to consider why you did what you did.

I do this routine at night, where I reflect on my actions of the day. If there was something that I did that did not sit well with me, I replay the moment to understand the intention behind my actions. I often find that my “why” was much deeper than what appeared on the surface. 

Sometimes, our actions are caused by old wounds or past trauma, and at other times, we want to protect ourselves in the only way we know how. This is not to excuse “bad behavior,” but if we’re being “triggered,” it is a sign that there’s something else going on inside us that we need to pay attention to. So be patient with yourself, examine your thoughts, and take the necessary steps to deal with any past trauma still causing you pain.

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3. Allow yourself time to heal. 

Learning from your mistakes is essential, but giving yourself time to heal afterward is equally important. In the same way it takes time to recover from a physical wound, it also takes time to heal from the emotional pain of making a mistake. Trying to rush this process can lead to even more worry and stress, which can impede you from fully recovering and moving forward. Taking the time to heal from mistakes is a critical step in the journey toward growth and development. So take time to process the emotions you’re experiencing, forgive yourself, and let it go.

4. Learn from the experience.

Living in the past won’t change anything. Instead of dwelling on your mistake, examine why it happened and what steps you can take to prevent the same behavior again in the future

Yes, you might have messed up, but look at it as a learning experience that can help you make better choices in the future.

5. Make amends and apologize.

Making amends is essential to forgiveness, even when the person you are forgiving is yourself. Just as you might not forgive someone else until they’ve acknowledged their mistake and made it up to you somehow, forgiving yourself is more likely to stick when you feel like you’ve earned it. Sometimes you have to hug yourself and say: “I’m sorry I hurt you.

When your actions have hurt others, you can rectify your mistake by apologizing and look for ways to make it up to them. 

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6. Seek support and help. 

When you’re struggling, reaching out and speaking with someone about it can be incredibly beneficial. This could be a close friend, a therapist, or a supportive online community. Talking about what you’re going through can be a great way to process your emotions and gain a different perspective on the situation. Additionally, it can be reassuring to know that you don’t have to face the challenge alone.

Final thoughts on how to forgive yourself

Deciding to forgive yourself is not always easy, but it is crucial. Self-forgiveness is all about loving yourself and giving yourself the same compassion you often so freely give to others. 

So remember to:

  • be patient with yourself,  
  • acknowledge your mistakes, but don’t dwell on them,
  • focus on the lessons you’ve learned and the changes you can make moving forward.

I hope these steps will help you forgive yourself, heal, and love yourself more deeply.

Want more tips on how to forgive yourself and deepen your connection to who you are?

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About Author

Valene Lindsay

As the founder of the Unfolding Rose and certified life purpose coach, I am passionate about helping women reconnect to their higher self, discover their purpose & create a life they truly desire.

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